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Issue No. 03 - July-September (2010 vol. 7)
ISSN: 1545-5971
pp: 300-314
Jaideep Vaidya , Rutgers University, Newark
Vijayalakshmi Atluri , Rutgers University, Newark
Janice Warner , Georgian Court University, Lakewood
Qi Guo , Rutgers University, Newark
Today, role-based access control (RBAC) has become a well-accepted paradigm for implementing access control because of its convenience and ease of administration. However, in order to realize the full benefits of the RBAC paradigm, one must first define the roles accurately. This task of defining roles and associating permissions with them, also known as role engineering, is typically accomplished either in a top-down or in a bottom-up manner. Under the top-down approach, a careful analysis of the business processes is done to first define job functions and then to specify appropriate roles from them. While this approach can help in defining roles more accurately, it is tedious and time consuming since it requires that the semantics of the business processes be well understood. Moreover, it ignores existing permissions within an organization and does not utilize them. On the other hand, under the bottom-up approach, existing permissions are used to derive roles from them. As a result, it may help automate the process of role definition. In this paper, we present an unsupervised approach, called RoleMiner, for mining roles from existing user-permission assignments. Since a role, when semantics are unavailable, is nothing but a set of permissions, the task of role mining is essentially that of clustering users having the same (or similar) permissions. However, unlike the traditional applications of data mining that ideally require identification of nonoverlapping clusters, roles will have overlapping permissions and thus permission sets that define roles should be allowed to overlap. It is this distinction from traditional clustering that makes the problem of role mining nontrivial. Our experiments with real and simulated data sets indicate that our role mining process is quite accurate and efficient. Since our role mining approach is based on subset enumeration, it is fairly robust to reasonable levels of noise.
Role-based access control, role engineering, data mining.

Q. Guo, J. Warner, V. Atluri and J. Vaidya, "Role Engineering via Prioritized Subset Enumeration," in IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing, vol. 7, no. , pp. 300-314, 2008.
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